1. ITV Report

Mayor defends Verity statue

Damien Hirst's Verity in Ilfracombe. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The Mayor of Ilfracombe has spoken out after hearing constant criticism that a statue in the town endorses teenage pregnancy.

Councillor Lynda Courtnadge says that some people who don't like the work called Verity by artist Damien Hirst are wrongly suggesting that the huge image of a pregnant woman reflects the town teen pregnancy rates.

I have recently heard several people using a misguided argument, which has often been quoted by some who are anti-Verity.

This is the claim that Ilfracombe has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country.

Young people in our town make a very important contribution to our community, and to suggest that they are more promiscuous than any other community, and to use this in public debate, is inaccurate and offensive."

– Cllr Lynda Courtnadge, Mayor of Ilfracombe
Cllr Lynda Courtnadge, Mayor of Ilfracombe. Credit: ITV Westcountry

The most recent data provided by NHS Devon, 2008 – 2010, in North Devon shows an under-18 conception rate of 2.4% amongst girls aged 15-17.

This was lower than the Devon rate at 3.1% and both the South West and England rates, at 3.2% and 3.8% respectively.

Artist Damien Hirst has loaned Verity to Ilfracombe for 20 years. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

World renowned artist Damien Hirst has loaned Ilfracombe the 66 foot high statue of Verity for a period of 20 years.

The huge creation was craned into place in October and a party to officially switch on the lighting up of the artwork was held last week.

A crane moves Verity into place last month. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Cast in bronze with half of her skin peeled back to expose the baby inside the womb Verity has been an instant hit.

Local tourism businesses say that thousands of extra people have come to take a look at what usually is a fairly quiet time of the year.

Damien Hirst's controversial Verity statue on Ilfracombe seafront. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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